SL Banetsu Monogatari

Route Map


Railway of forests, water, and adventure, fun for the whole family

Retro style car interior

The Series 12 rolling stock was modified for the passenger cars. Wood patterns and soft colors create an old-style atmosphere evocative of the beloved Taisho era (1912–1926).

Fun for the whole family

In Car no. 1, rest on forest-inspired benches while enjoying the sense of spaciousness provided by the panoramic windows, and the “Okojo Room,” a space for children to play freely. The locomotive right in front of you powers your outbound journey, and on the return journey a beautiful view of the Ban-etsu-West Line spreads out before you.

“Kifujin” (Noble Lady)

Built in 1946, the SL Banetsu Monogatari has long been loved by passengers, earning the nickname of "Kifujin" (Noble Lady) for its graceful appearance with the large driving wheels and narrow boiler. The number 180 was retired to a quiet life at Niitsu Station, an important railway location, but was then pulled out of retirement in 1999 due to popular demand. It was revived as the SL Banetsu Monogatari, running seasonally on the Ban-etsu-West Line.

SL Banetsu Monogatari

*Rock-paper-scissors contests are not being held at present.

[Niigata Prefecture/Fukushima Prefecture]
Route Map
Debut year
April 1999
Service area
Niitsu to Aizu-Wakamatsu Stations

Travel Guide


Here are some recommended spots along the SL Banetsu Monogatari route.

SL Banetsu Monogatari route map
  • Spot 1: Kitakata
  • Spot 2: Yamatogawa Sake Brewery Northern Museum (Hall of Northern Spirits)
  • Spot 3: Kitakata City Museum of Art
  • Spot 4: Kitsune-no-Yomeiri Yashiki
  • Spot 5: Tsurugajo Castle
  • Spot 6: Agano River Line Circuit Course
Photo: Kitakata
Kitakata
Photo: Kitakata

Kitakata

Tatami storehouses, sake breweries; more than 4,000 warehouses of all kinds line the streets of Kitakata. Typically, warehouses are used exclusively for storage, but here they take on a variety of forms closely connected to daily life, such as stores (store warehouses), residences in the far back of the stores (tatami storehouses), breweries, and temples. We also recommend “Kitakata Ramen,” made with soy sauce produced in Kitakata.

Photo: Yamatogawa Sake Brewery Northern Museum (Hall of Northern Spirits)
Yamatogawa Sake Brewery Northern Museum (Hall of Northern Spirits)
Photo: Yamatogawa Sake Brewery Northern Museum (Hall of Northern Spirits)

Yamatogawa Sake Brewery Northern Museum (Hall of Northern Spirits)

This long-established Kitakata sake brewery produces high-quality sake using locally grown rice and water from the Iide mountain range. At the Northern Museum (Hall of Spirits), visitors can sample sake and tour the brewery, which was built in the Edo, Taisho, and Showa periods.

Access
About a 15-minute walk from Kitakata Station on the JR Ban-etsu-West Line
Photo: Kitakata City Museum of Art
Kitakata City Museum of Art
Photo: Kitakata City Museum of Art

Kitakata City Museum of Art

This art museum was built in the image of a brick warehouse in order to blend in with the cityscape of Kitakata, known as "warehouse town.” As a locally-oriented museum, it mainly exhibits works by artists that have a connection to Fukushima Prefecture, including paintings, prints, sculptures, and more.

Access
About 20 minutes on foot or 5 minutes by taxi from Kitakata Station on the JR Ban-etsu-West Line
Photo: Kitsune-no-yomeiri-yashiki
Kitsune-no-yomeiri-yashiki
Photo: Kitsune-no-yomeiri-yashiki

Kitsune-no-yomeiri-yashiki

Access
About 20 minutes on foot from Tsugawa Station
Photo: Tsurugajo Castle
Tsurugajo Castle
Photo: Tsurugajo Castle

Tsurugajo Castle

In commemoration of the 1908 establishment of the 65th infantry regiment, many Someiyoshino cherry trees were planted in Tsurugajo Castle Park by former Aizu domain samurai such as Jujiro Endo. The park has been enjoyed by many people every spring of the 100-plus years since the trees were planted.

Access
Take the "Haikara-san" loop bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station,
get off at the "Tsurugajo Iriguchi" stop (about a 20-minute ride), and then walk for about 5 minutes.
Photo: Agano River Line Boat Ride
Agano River Line Boat Ride
Photo: Agano River Line Boat Ride

Agano River Line Boat Ride

The Agano River is one of the 100 Landscapes of Japan. The roadside station "Aganosato" offers Agano River Line sightseeing boats. The jet boat "Isabella Bird" has been in service since last April, and the renovated sightseeing boat "Dai-san Kogane Maru" has been in service since January 2019. The guide interweaves boat songs, nature, history, and legends into this 40-minute tour.

Access

[Agano River Line Sightseeing Boat] About 10 minutes by car from Mikawa Station 
*Taxis are available at the station.

Train Details

SL Banetsu Monogatari has been in regular operation since April 29, 1999 on the Ban-etsu-West Line with a restored SL (C57-180), and is used by visitors from the Tokyo metropolitan area and from all over Japan.
Enjoy the picturesque scenery of each season on the Ban-etsu-West Line, "Railway of Forests, Water, and Adventure.”

Car interior

Car no. 1

Okojo Observation Car

Car No. 1 is a free space for children to play, "Okojo Room" and "Okojo Observatory" for Adult. Please enjoy the "Stoat Observation Vehicle" that the whole family can enjoy.

Car no. 4

Observation Car

The panoramic observation room in Car no. 4 provides a sense of spaciousness, allowing you to fully enjoy the natural beauty of the Ban-etsu-West Line.
In addition, there are commemorative boarding stamps and a mailbox for sending postcards from inside the train.

*Due to operating conditions, letters may not be postmarked on the day they are mailed.

Car no. 7

Green Car

Carrying the nostalgic feel of the Taisho period, the SL Banetsu Monogatari has the grace of the C57-180 (Kifujin) model, and a Green Car was brought on board to bring a new level of comfort and pleasure to travelers. Enjoy the scenery outbound and the power of the SL on the way home.

Car no. 7

Green Car seats

Seating 30 people, the Green Car has reclining seats that rotate.
The layout of each row is three seats, with one seat on one side of the aisle and two on the other, and each row is comfortably separated from the others on par with the standard Green Car arrangement.

Car no. 7

Panoramic observation room

The front end of the Green Car has a sense of spaciousness with a panoramic observation room.
(Green car only)
Just in front of the observation room on the return journey is the powerful SL locomotive.

Car layout

  • *The SL locomotive is connected to car no. 1 on the outbound journey and car no. 7 on the return journey.

Make the most of your train ride

Have fun on the train and enjoy the charm of the Ban-etsu-West Line as you travel.

Station Information

Tsugawa Station

Fun during the train stop! “The Okojiro's House”

The Okojiro's House is located on the platform of Tsugawa Station! Inside the house, there is a fireplace and benches shaped like tree stumps and on the platform there are Okojiro art pieces, so you can enjoy the ambience of Okojiro’s life.

Timetable & Calendar

How to Board


How to purchase tickets

Basic fare ticket + reserved seat ticket

SL Banetsu Monogatari is a rapid train and all seats are reserved. A reserved seat ticket is required in addition to the basic fare ticket.
(If you use a JR East Rail Pass such as JR EAST PASS, you can make a seat reservation without paying an additional fee. Please make a reservation for a reserved seat (free of charge) at the sales location. )
Reserved seat tickets are available at JR-EAST Train Reservations, JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-Madoguchi) at key JR stations, and Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines from 10:00 a.m. (*) one month before the date of use. (*Reserved seat ticket vending machines open at 10:10 a.m.)

Relax in the Green Car

For even greater comfort and relaxation, we also offer the Green Car.
Tickets for a Green Car seat are available at JR-EAST Train Reservation, JR Ticket Office (Midori-no-Madoguchi) at key JR stations, and seat Reserved Seat Ticket Vending Machines from 10:00 a.m. (*) one month prior to the date of use. (*Reserved seat ticket vending machines open at 10:10 a.m.)

Reservation and application for reserved seats

Recommended information